This morning, I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out why the slide scanner my father-in-law got for Christmas has been so hard for him to use. The tool in question, Brookstone’s iConvert, allows you to make digital files from old slides. Great idea! Slides can be a wonderful resource for genealogists, but few of us have working slide projectors any more. Transforming our slides into a more useful, contemporary format is a valuable project to undertake. As I personally have a huge crate of my own family slides waiting to be digitized, I knew that figuring out this scanner’s issues would be useful both for my father-in-law and, potentially, for myself.
There are two problems with iConvert, however. First, the instruction manual glosses over some important steps. Second, the accompanying software was not designed to be used in an intuitive way. If you read the customer feedback on the Brookstone website about this tool, you’ll see that many of the iConvert’s negative ratings spring from these problems. Only 44% of customers would recommend the iConvert to anyone else, according to Brookstone.
That said, I finally figured out how to get the iConvert to work purely through trial and error. To save others from having to go through the same process, I decided to write up a few notes on using iConvert. The following steps worked for me.
- Install the software as shown in the product manual. Your computer will restart automatically as the final step in the installation process.
- Once your computer has restarted, you will see a “FotoLite” icon on your desktop. Even though this name bears no resemblance to iConvert, it really is the software that runs your slide digitizer. Double-click on the FotoLite icon.
- In the window that opens, select the number of dots per inch (dpi) and image type (I chose JPEG) you want to create. Select the folder on your computer where you want the digitized slide files to be stored. Close the FotoLink window.
- Clip four slides into the black tray that came with the iConvert. Slip the tray into the slot on the right-hand side of the silver iConvert box.
- Position the slide you want to digitize so that it is roughly in the center of the silver box. There does not appear to be a way to figure out when your slide is in the correct position. You’ll just have to play with it until you get it right. More about this issue in step 6.
- On the front of the silver box, press the slide button (it’s the one on the left, over which you will see a picture of one rectangle) one time.
- Back on your computer screen, double click on the FotoLite icon again. This time, because of the action you took in step 5, a different window will appear than you saw in step 3. This time around, you will see a preview of the slide to be scanned. The image inside the blinking dotted rectangle is the image that will be captured as a digital file. If it doesn’t look right to you — perhaps the image is oddly cropped or incomplete — manually adjust the position of the slide tray inside the silver box. To see if your adjustment did the trick, click the “prescan” button in the FotoLite window your computer screen. Keep adjusting the slide trade and clicking the “prescan” button until you’ve got it right.
- Click scan.
- Wait. It looks like nothing is happening, but, in reality, your digital file is being created. You may have to wait 5 or 10 seconds, but it will work. When the image has been scanned and saved in the destination folder you selected in step 3, the FotoLite window will close automatically.
- Repeat steps 5 through 9 until you run out of slides to digitize.
I hope these tips help. Are there other slide digitizers you have been using? Which one would you recommend?